Every brand claims to be passionate and dedicated. However, actions speak louder than words and at OxTS, our passion and dedication is proven. From investment in R&D to continuously innovate market-leading inertial navigation solutions, through to our first-class production and support, we demonstrate our commitment to our customers. As a global company, another key member of our team is Marie Griffiths, Export Team Leader. She is part of a friendly team of import/export specialists who deal with customs queries from around the world, on a daily basis. Here Marie tells us about a ‘day in her life’:
1. How long have you worked at OxTS, and have you experienced many changes during your time with the Company?
I have worked at OxTS for over three years. During my time, there have been many changes as we had to expand rapidly due to the success of our products. When I first started, we had 30 employees and we are over 70 people now. The latest changes we are experiencing are, of course, due to the UK leaving the European Union (Brexit). We have planned for the scenarios of the UK leaving without a deal, and leaving with one. For example, we already have the new licence in place required for exporting dual-use items to the EU member states, and we have invested in new software necessary to produce commercial invoices to the EU. To avoid delays we are working closely with our preferred courier services to manage the changes. Our wider teams have been working on the changes to labelling, VAT and other necessary updates to ensure we continue to provide a smooth service to all of our customers post-Brexit.
2. What are your key responsibilities as an Export Team Leader for OxTS?
My key responsibilities are processing and despatching orders accurately while following all the compliance rules and regulations. Using the correct export licences when despatching is key. I’m also responsible for making sure that orders are planned to capacity, to facilitate the planning for production team resources. Another important task is providing the import instructions for the components coming from outside the UK in a timely manner so that the supply chain flows.
Of course, I also provide support to our customers regarding questions that their own Customs authorities might have. We get audited by HMRC and the Export Control Organisation very regularly, so making sure our records are correct and accurate is important.
3. What’s the most challenging thing about being OxTS’ Export Team Leader, and how do you manage this?
The most challenging thing is to stay abreast of the ever-changing Customs regulations, not only in our country, but anywhere we export our products. The UK leaving the EU is one example of this. Sometimes we receive plenty of notice of regulation changes, but other times we have to respond very quickly.
When we develop new products, we have to ensure that the specifications are in line with the regulations of the country of export, and as we export worldwide, this can be quite challenging. We have to adapt our products according to the countries, for example we cannot export WiFi-enabled products to Japan due to their import regulations, but we can do to China. Our products have US components within them, and therefore we must comply with US laws, for example we are forbidden from dealing with companies in countries where the US has an embargo in force.
4. What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?
One accomplishment I’m very proud of is going completely paperless. This wasn’t an easy task as we generate a lot of paperwork for Imports and Exports. To achieve this, we trained ourselves to upload all information relating to purchase orders into our shipping database. We also signed up to receive HMRC data so we can cross-check all declarations on a monthly basis.
We started before the Covid-19 pandemic which meant it didn’t take long before we could move to working from home seamlessly. Now that our department is fully digital, we can immediately locate the documents we need relating to any shipment. It saves time and means we have digital backups if we ever need them. We had positive feedback from our customers who said they didn’t even realise we were no longer working from the office.
Also, if I’m allowed a second answer, I’m proud that OxTS were awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International trade 2019. We all worked extremely hard to achieve this.
5. What do you enjoy most about being part of the OxTS team?
OxTS is a very friendly place to work, it’s one big team. You can ask for help from anyone in any departments and they will genuinely be happy to help. Even when many of us work remotely, we are still just a phone call, or skype, away from each other. This is what I most enjoy about being part of OxTS. We’re still a relatively small company and so we all know each other by name, we’re not just a number, or a job function. The company encourages quarterly get-togethers so we can all meet new starters face-to-face and catch up with people we don’t see so often. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, we continued to achieve this via remote technologies, for example holding staff quizzes. OxTS has a reward scheme when someone you have recommended gets employed here. When new employees are recruited in this way, this means they will already know at least one person and I think it contributes to the friendly atmosphere.
6. What are you hoping to achieve over the next 12 months at OxTS?
The export department is part of the operations division, and we all work closely together. I have a good existing product knowledge, but I’d like to know more about the production process. I often hear terms used by the production team and I don’t really know exactly what they mean. For example, I sometimes wonder, why do we “soak” our units? (that doesn’t involve any water at all, by the way!) Why do we “bake” them? (and that does involve ovens). Understanding our products, of course, helps us to process purchase orders better. So, over the next 12 months, I’m aiming to develop a wider understanding about OxTS technologies.